The east coast of Britain, plus a rash of Scottish Isles, is/are playing host to a stellar cast of rare vagrants - Masked Shrike, Tennessee Warbler, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Siberian Thrush, White’s Thrush, Eye-browed Thrush, Two-barred Greenish Warbler - I could go on... plus a mouthwatering back-up courtesy of multiple Red-flanked Bluetails, Radde’s Warblers and more Yellow-browed Warblers than it is possible to accurately count. For many birders the knee-jerk reaction is to head straight to the hot-spots where the rarity - and the action - is taking place. And who can blame them. But, things are different now. Joining the ‘to be expected’ moral conundrums that usually accompany such a birding scrum (trespass, toggers and carbon foot-print) there is a new concern in town, that of the COVID-19 virus. A rare bird = a birding crowd. When something as modest as a scarce migrant can gather 20-30 birders within minutes, what chance do we stand of conforming to health guidelines? There
Popular posts from this blog
Yesterday evening I had written a lengthy post on the subject of birding behaviour during the second lockdown, but then deleted it rather than publish it - this after a bit of soul-searching when I thought better of it, and decided that it might ruffle a few feathers That wasn't something that I wished to happen. So I tweeted this instead: As can be seen, it has gathered a lot of interest, with over 58,000 views, 40 Retweets and getting on for 950 likes. But what about the 'not likes'? Even though I do put out the odd contentious tweet from time to time I am still a sensitive soul and do not like to think that anybody would be upset by what I post. I felt happy that the above post would be taken as a pat-on-the-back to those birders who have stuck to the government lockdown recommendations. Plenty haven't - or at least have played loose with the nitty-gritty of lockdown - and this has annoyed me somewhat. I could go into a bit more detail, but really don't want to.
Yesterday afternoon, in dull light and rain, I came across a strikingly pale Stonechat in a grassy paddock at Little Woodcote in Surrey. It had something of the Whinchat about it, all creamy peaches and obvious supercillium, but it was distant and flighty. My schoolboy error was in not having my scope with me, and seeing that I needed to get home, the bridge camera came out and I took a couple of dodgy shots. These were enough to elicit interest from a few birders, one of which, Peter Alfrey, met me shortly after first light this morning to try and see if the bird was (a) still present and (b) a wanderer from further east. Thankfully the bird had stayed overnight and had remained in the meadow, and not only that, it was an awfully lot closer than yesterday. A ‘typical’ female Stonechat was keeping it company, highlighting the striking paleness of ‘our’ birds underparts, lacking the orange-russet tones of its typical hibernans companion. Again, the supercillium was marked and obvious.